Published: January, 2018
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Rome, Italy

If you are bringing kids, buy the book, ‘This is Rome,’ by M. Sasek in advance and take it with you- read it to kids while you are there and take notes during downtime/meals. I promise it will be an amazing keepsake and memory jogger!
— Cynthia Pillsbury
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 4 DAYS

to & from

Any non-stop flights from US but an easy city to get to via train or other larger city airports.

Where to Stay

Hotel Ponte Sisto: 4 star hotel with a great breakfast. They have a perfect suite with two rooms that are connected and a terrace – ideal for families with 3 kids- which is trickier in Europe to find.  The location of the hotel was central and convenient.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • The best part of Rome is that you can’t really find yourself in a place that does not have great pasta and pizza. While it’s not as good as Florence, or other more Northern Italian cities, the food is always decent and kids can always find something to eat.
  • Simple Trattorias are everywhere- it’s not as important to make reservations, but just find a place to eat that fits with where you are sightseeing and when you are hungry.
  • La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali- Near Rome and the Colosseum is a family run, charming spot with great food.
  • Ristorante Maccheroni (near the Piazza Navona) was our favorite meal- had a local vibe, delicious pastas.
  • La Scala- In a very cool, less touristy party of town, Trastevere and in a small piazza that was perfect for a pick up game of soccer and tag for the kids while parents sipped Chianti.

What to Do

  • Rome is an epic European city and one of the best parts of the city is that you can get a sense of the history just by walking around.
  • Ancient Rome & The Colosseum- Must see and ideally with a local guide. Go early for less crowds and plan on spending a few hours and getting lunch in the neighborhood after.
  • Piazza Venezia- EPIC Piazza, incredible sculptures and tombs, seemed like the heartbeat of Rome.
  • Galleria Spada-Famous for it’s forced perspective gallery and the façade of the building.
  • Spanish Steps- wonder around the Piazza and get a drink along the steps while your kids run up and down them! There is a chic, high fashion area near the Spanish Steps worth walking through for people watching.
  • Pantheon- Former temple, now Church, very well preserved and worth a quick stop.
  • Vatican City- Worthwhile to see, but proceed with caution- you MUST go early or you will be in a sea of crowds. The favorite party of the Vatican visit was viewing the Michangelo drawings and climbing up to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica– which is not east feat-320 steps along a very narrow walkway. The view is well worth it, best view of the Vatican City and surrounding Rome.

inside scoop

  • Hire a private tour guide (especially if with kids) of Ancient Rome and Vatican City. Plan one/day. Fabio Luciani- specializes in bringing to life history for kids.
  • Summer brings heat and crowds to Rome, plan visiting tourist sites as early in the day as possible.
  • Incorporate as much time to wonder around as possible- check out as many Piazzas as you can- they are incredible and the best place to get a gelato and take in the scene.
  • Build in rest times at the hotel (loved having a terrace so while the kids slept I sat outside, gazing over the Roman rooftops and read.
  • Lower expectations of food in Rome, it’s more about the setting than the food.
  • If you are bringing kids, buy the book, This is Rome by M. Sasek in advance and take it with you- read it to kids while you are there and take notes during downtime/meals of what you just did. I promise it will be an amazing keepsake and memory jogger!

Rome, Italy - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Cynthia Pillsbury Says

    According to Oliver Guide author Kristen Kratus touring Rome by golf cart is a fun way to see a lot of sights.
    and Imago Artis ( is a great resource for setting up tours of Ancient Rome and The Vatican.

  • Nina Smallhorn Says

    We visited our local friends in February and I HIGHLY recommend this 45 minute movie before you head out to see the colosseum and the forum (MUST do)

    St. Peters Basilica…climb all the way to the top….it’s worth it!

    Jewish Ghetto was very cool.

    The obvious…Spanish Steps/ Trevi Fountain/ Nouvo Piazza….try and get out early to experience before the crowds come.

    Hotel Hassler or Hotel Russie for a drink or at least a walk through.

    As for meals……

    La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali in Monti. (Because it’s near the Roman Forum)- LOVED this…and LOVED the neighborhood of Monti.

    Antica Trattoria Angelino in Piazza Margana – delish Cacio e Pepe

    Giggetto is in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto

    Roscioli for pizza- take out and go sit by a fountain or to Park

    We also did a cooking class through Walks Tours that was SUPER fun.

  • Nina Smallhorn Says

    Our dear friends the McCaddens spent the last two years living in Rome. Alyssa – 18 year old – created the tour tips of all tour tips listed below:

    Obvious must-see places
    – Castel Sant’Angelo
    – St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican museums
    – Trevi Fountain
    – Colosseum, Roman Forum – walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali
    – Pantheon
    – Vittoriano, Campidoglio/Capitoline Hill
    – Spanish Steps
    – Piazza Navona
    – Circo Massimo
    – Borghese Gallery

    Other places to go and things to see besides the main monuments
    – Isola Tiberina — my favorite place for a picnic in the city! It’s the small island in the middle of the tiber river – you can take the stairs down to the walkway around the base of the island and have a picnic under the trees and see a section of the oldest bridge in Rome! The island is really close to Forno Roscioli so you can pick up some pizza and bring it here for a picnic.
    – Monti is the most quintessential Italian neighborhood near the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The main area is a little piazza around a fountain with lots of little cafes and restaurants. The surrounding streets have a lot of vintage clothing stores and fun little shops. Sottobosco is a cute store in Monti with nice inexpensive jewelry. Bar Monti is a great place for coffee outside and it was my favorite place to do homework/read.
    – The Aventino keyhole – this is a keyhole in a doorway and when you look through it you get a direct view of the Vatican. It’s really cool and also impossible to take a good photo of (everyone tries but it’s really hard to capture). There will probably be a really long line in the sun which is hard during the summer so I would go early in the morning if you can. It’s really close to the Giardino degli Aranci which has a really beautiful view of the city.
    – See the sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps or from the Pincio lookout in Villa Borghese
    – Climb to the top of the St. Peter’s cupola — amazing view of the city and of the dome interior. You take the stairs to the top and then the stairs down lead right into the basilica.
    – Borghese gallery – best museum with sculpture in a beautiful villa. It only takes about an hour to walk through and has some amazing sculptures by Bernini. It’s located in the Borghese gardens which is a nice park to walk around before/after the museum.
    – Via Margutta – gorgeous side street off Piazza di Spagna
    – Chiesa del Gesù – primary Jesuit church, incredible interior and ceiling fresco
    – Welcome to Rome experience – this is a 30 minute film about the history of Rome – its really cool and will explain a lot about all the monuments you’re seeing in a short time
    – Lookout over the Roman forum from Capitoline Hill/Campidoglio – beautiful view of the forum from above – walk up to the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo and then walk down the walkway to the right to see the view
    – Chocolate — Moriondo & Gariglio by the Pantheon is the best traditional chocolate store where you can buy handmade chocolate by the piece and they’re incredible
    – Walk around the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood — very fun scene at night with restaurants. You can also quickly walk through the ruins at the Portico d’Ottavio and Teatro Marcello. In front of many doors in the Jewish Ghetto you will also see small engraved gold plaques on the cobblestones, which memorialize Holocaust victims who lived in those buildings.
    – San Luigi dei Francesci church (between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona) has 3 famous Caravaggio paintings. The Calling of St Matthew is the most famous.
    – Pasta Making in Trastevere – We did this cooking class with Sophie and Nina and it was really fun. We made delicious pasta all’amatriciana.

    If you have time for a day trip
    – Orvieto is a beautiful medieval hill-top town in Umbria about an hour train ride from Rome with a famous basilica and fun shopping streets and restaurants. It’s an easy day trip, you can take the train from the Termini station and there’s a 5-minute tram/gondola that takes you up to the town from the Orvieto train station.

    For Teens
    – Trastevere is the neighborhood with the most teenage nightlife especially around the bars and restaurants, there are some really good places for food
    – Campo dei Fiori is another teenage nightlife spot for both Italians and international kids and there are a bunch of restaurants and bars in the piazza that are fun. During the day this is a fun market to visit and then at night they take away all the stands and the restaurants move into the piazza.

    Restaurants for pasta and traditional Roman/Italian food
    – La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali – best restaurant in the Monti neighborhood. It has great pasta and a nice small indoor restaurant with a few tables outside. The people that own it are really nice and the food is amazing.
    – Armando al Pantheon – incredible food next to the Pantheon. It’s famous because Stanley Tucci visited it on his TV show about Italy. It’s hard to get a reservation but if you can get one its definitely worth it!!
    – Giggetto – great place to sit outside for dinner in the Jewish Ghetto. It has great Roman pasta and artichokes and it’s on a walking street with a lot of lively restaurants at night.
    – La Campana – the oldest restaurant in Rome. Amazing pasta (especially amatriciana), feels very local, not very fancy but very good
    – Trattoria Angelino – we lived in the apartment above the restaurant for a few months. It has nice outdoor seating a small piazza and good pasta, bruschetta, etc.

    Other restaurants
    – Hamasei – great Japanese restaurant if you get tired of Italian food

    – Otivm hotel rooftop bar – have drinks/apperitivo with a view of the Campidoglio and the Vittoro Emanuele
    – Hotel de Russie near Piazza del Popolo – beautiful garden bar/restaurant
    – Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina — piazza with many outdoor restaurants/cafes for drinks and apperitivo. Tre in Lucina restaurant has good pizza
    – Tartarughe Cafe – in the Jewish Ghetto in the piazza with the famous Turtle Fountain designed by Bernini, has a fun scene for coffee in the morning or appetitivo in the evening

    – Forno Roscioli — best pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) in the city!! There will probably be a really long line but it’s worth it!!
    – Forno del Milvio — good pizza al taglio in Monti, they also have really good suppli (Roman rice balls) — you can pick it up and eat it on the fountain in the piazza

    – Chiostro del Bramante – this is a museum that also has a cafe on the open cloister of the building’s courtyard. There will be a line at the door for the museum and you can tell the guard that you only want to go to the cafe and skip the line. The cafe is on the second floor with tables overlooking the courtyard – it’s really beautiful and the coffee is really good, you can also linger here with a computer/book and there’s a fun gift shop
    – Le Carre Francias – best pastries in the city (incredible French croissants) and really good coffee.
    – Casa & Bottega is a a great place for coffee and cornetti for breakfast or in the afternoon. It’s on Via del Coronari which is a fun walking street for shopping and food.
    – Sant’Eustacchio – many Romans argue that this is the best coffee

    – Frigidarium — best gelato!!!! It’s by Piazza Navona and they have the best flavors in the city!!
    – Venchi — there are multiple locations around the city by the Pantheon, Via del Corso, and Piazza di Spagna. They have amazing gelato (especially the chocolate) and good chocolate bars and candies that are beautiful gifts
    – Giolitti – gelato near the Pantheon, very famous partly because the Obama girls made gelato there while Obama was meeting in Rome

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